House Democrats are raising cost, transparency and ethical questions about the Republican leadership’s hiring of an outside attorney to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
In her latest letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lists a series of questions about the hiring of the hiring of the law firm of King & Spalding for the defense of the law that restricts the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. George W. Bush Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a King & Spalding partner in D.C., will lead the defense.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced in February that the Justice Department would no longer defend the 1996 law, drawing ire from Republicans, who then decided to hire a firm themselves
In her latest letter to Boehner, Pelosi asks whether bids were solicited for attorneys and why Democrats on the House Administration Committee were not consulted about the contract. She also asks Boehner how the attorney fee–$520 an hour– was established and whether the House Ethics Committee was consulted about the hiring. Finally, she asks whether the law firm has agreed to restrict lobbying efforts on behalf of clients to ensure that “no conflicts of interest arise on behalf of its extensive list of corporate clients while that firm is employed by the House.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “The minority leader’s new-found concern for saving taxpayers money is encouraging. We hope it means we can count on her support for reducing DOJ’s budget to recoup any costs incurred by the House so that taxpayers will bear no added cost for the administration’s refusal to defend the laws of the United States.”
Clement on Monday filed paperwork in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to intervene in a DOMA case on behalf of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House. The advisory organization voted along party lines to defend the act.